Oakland offers romantic fantasy

Staff report


The Oakland Center for the Arts will present “Prelude to a Kiss,” the romantic fantasy believed to be a response to the AIDS epidemic, for three weekends beginning Friday.

The opening-night production will be preceded by “Before and Afterlives — Visual Interpretations.” Author Christopher Barzak of Youngstown will sign copies of his newly published collection of short stories, “Before and Afterlives,” at the event, which also will include an art exhibit. It begins at 6 p.m., and the curtain goes up at 8.

“Prelude to a Kiss,” written by Craig Lucas in 1988, tells the story of Rita and Peter, a newly married couple who experience a supernatural event that causes them to re-examine what love is.

Both characters learn to look beyond outward beauty, and, in the end, learn that love is both a fragile and durable thing.

Liz Conrad is the director of the play. The cast is led by Anthony Genovese and Kate Starling as Peter and Rita. It also includes Tommy O’Donnell, Molly Galano, Terry Shears, Lynn Kirkwood, Zara Markman, Nic Tatalovic, Lindsay Clifton, Carlos Rivera and Larissa Woloszyn.

Barzak’s “Before and Afterlives” touches on similar themes of love and the supernatural.

The Youngstown State University professor believes that these themes also speak to what it means to live in Youngstown.

“The places where art, music, theater and writing intersect are the places where the real energy of this city can be seen and felt,” he said. “Youngstown is often viewed as a ghost town. But like the supernatural stories in my new collection, I think it’s apparent that, if that’s true, this city has a long afterlife and new incarnations to explore in its future.”

In addition to the book signing, the Oakland Star Gallery will showcase the work of 15 local artists who created pieces inspired by “Before and Afterlives”: Tony Romandetti, Tony Nicholas, Marcie Applegate, Lynn Cardwell, Christine D’Angelo, Jeffrey Puccini, Fred Shepherd, Jess Leininger, Jo Ann Buzulencia, Crystal Beiersdorfer, Daniel Horne, Maryanne Caleris, Sharon Meenachan, Kelly Bancroft and Robert Joki.

Guests can purchase copies of Barzak’s book at the event, and all of the exhibited artworks also will be for sale.

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